January 7, 2013

Gardens pretty with some snow


Up close, the seed heads are delicate and showy, but from my window, I mostly notice the overall billowy, grassy texture.

My third clump is a feather reed grass variety called “Karl Foerster.” One catalog referred to its form as an exclamation point in the garden, and that’s a very accurate description.

This grass grows straight up — no bending or flexing — with a long, narrow tuft of seeds at its tip. It has a yellowish-tan color once it goes to seed, which is very attractive next to the darker green leaves in the early fall garden.

I don’t have a fence along the back of this garden, but that would provide a nice backdrop and anchor for the garden. I live in the country, so a split-rail fence would work well. It would provide a place for birds to perch as well as one more surface for the snow to pile up on.

I think I just talked myself into putting up a section of fence there next summer! That’s one of the things I like best about perennial gardens: They’re always changing and are easy to rearrange.

Last of all are the shrubs in my garden. I’ve learned that you need to use a little caution here. That 3-foot-tall viburnum will quickly grow to 8 feet tall and take up a lot more room than you thought.

But I find some heavy pruning and rearranging help me correct any miscalculations, and all add to the year-round interest and variety in my garden.

Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: Email questions to

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